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Property Owner Fixing a Defective Condition cannot be used as Evidence

Apr 11, 2015 | Premises Liability

Can you use a property owner fixing a defective problem on his property as evidence to show that what occurred was improper and careless?

Showing Liability of Property Owner

Let us say you slip and fall on somebody’s property, and you want to claim compensation for your injuries. You will have to show that the property owner knew or should have known about the defective condition that caused you to fall. Many times after an accident has taken place, the property owner will go ahead and fix that defective condition for the obvious reason that they do not want somebody else to be injured due to that dangerous condition.

Personal Injury

A property owner cannot absolve himself by fixing the defective areas of his property.

The defective condition could be a hole in the ground, or something else significant that is posing a danger to anybody who is walking on the property.

You cannot Use it as Evidence

According to law, you are not permitted to take into evidence the fact of the property owner fixing the dangerous condition. You cannot tell the jury that the property went ahead and fixed the defective condition, and that is clear-cut evidence showing that there was a problem there before. Well, in law, you are not permitted to use that as evidence that there was a problem before.

The property owner fixing a defective condition after somebody has already been in an accident and made that issue known to everyone in the area is known as “subsequent remedial repair”. Subsequent means after and remedial means the person is trying to fix the problem.

Actually, it would be wonderful, if you could use that action taken by the owner as evidence―to show the jury the fact that the property owner fixed the problem after you have already been injured which means the owner is in essence admitting guilt. You would want this to be sufficient evidence to prove that the property owner is responsible for your injuries.

What can You Do?

However, unfortunately, the law in New York does not allow you to do that. Hence, instead, you will have to go back and look at it in one of two ways:

  1. You have to prove that you are more likely right than wrong that the property knew there was a dangerous condition
  2. You argue that the property owner should have known about the dangerous condition

The fact that he fixed that particular part of his property that you were injured on, cannot be used as proof that he knew that this dangerous condition existed. You may have pointed out this flaw. The action taken by the owner does not admit guilt. In fact, he may be doing his civic duty and does not want anyone else to get hurt.

If you slip and fall on snow and ice, or on defective property and you have suffered significant harm or injury, you can claim compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the property owner. The property owner has an obligation to keep his property in a reasonably safe condition so that people visiting the property are not harmed.

At trial, you will have to prove the property owner failed in this obligation and because of that, you were injured. The property owner may have remedied the dangerous condition after your accident to prevent further injury to passerby or customers. However, the property owner fixing a defective condition cannot be used as evidence to prove the liability of the property owner.